Feelings on the utility and advisability of radio collar containment systems vary widely. Only you can evaluate what is right for you.
Some people have very positive feelings in favor of the system. Others have had unhappy occurrences. In order to decide whether the system is right for what you want, you need to be aware of possible risks. You can then evaluate the degree of risk according to your individual circumstances.
This kind of containment system works by a transmitting wire and a radio collar receiver. The receiver senses how close it is to the transmitting wire and gives the dog an electric shock if the dog gets too close. This is enough to keep some dogs inside the perimeter. Other dogs will ignore the shock if they are excited enough. You can and should test the collar on yourself. I found the shock to be noticeable, startling but not painful, and not particularly traumatic.
This kind of restriction requires dedicated training by the dog owner. It cannot protect the dog against other dogs or animals entering the property and getting into a fight. It won't deter a dog thief. It doesn't protect people or animals entering the property from a territorial dog that might bite. In most states the dog owner will be liable for dog bites if the person who entered was only a casual trespasser. In some communities the device is not a legally acceptable means of restricting a dog.
Postings in the dogs newsgroups have demonstrated each of these problems. One dog killed a puppy that entered the yard. One dog was due to be destroyed because it bit a trespassing child. Several people reported that their dogs ignored the shocks when chasing animals or otherwise becoming excited. My coworker's dog was carried off by a coyote. At least one person posted that their dog was attacked by loose neighbor's dogs. There were several persons who had no trouble and were quite pleased with the system. All of these were posted between February 1996 and July 1996. More recently was posting about a delivery person who successfully sued when he was struck by a vehicle after running from the dog which appeared to be uncontrolled.
It can't electrocute the dog. People used to report burns from the collar, but apparently they were mistaken. According to an industry representative the collar can't cause burns. The damage was, instead, necrotic lesions caused by improper use. The probes that give the electric shock can wear away the fur causing bare spots. In unusual cases infections can occur. There have been reports of head shyness or nervousness, but I have no knowledge about the objectivity of the observations and would want such before I relied much upon those reports. All in all the health risks appear to be very very small, certainly less than the risks faced by dogs that run free.
It can be a useful tool to avoid the risk of the dog bolting during training or play sessions or when someone is otherwise there to prevent the above problems from occurring. It also might be a good back up to prevent an escape artist dog from going under or over a real fence. Putting such a device along the fence line might deter the dog from approaching the fence.
The risk to a dog that escapes its owners land in a rural area is not necessarily less, just different, than the risk in in urban areas. For more information on dogs in rural areas see http://www.dog-play.com/freedogs.html
I hope this helps in evaluating whether the containment system is appropriate for your needs.
In my circumstance there is no way I would trust the life of my dog to this kind of containment system. Even assuming it would keep my dogs in it leaves them far too vulnerable for my comfort level.
This is a list of some other links on the topic. The view points vary and I've included a couple sellers of the product. My goal is to let you compare statements and information. I don't endorse or support the product, but neither am I completely against it.
An article discussing the fencing options for this breed
Another pros and cons discussion
A fairly detailed discussion of the mechanics, pros and cons.
Again this is a seller of the product, so judge information accordingly
Copyright © 1998-2003, Diane Blackman Created: May 11, 1998 Updated January 15, 2007
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